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Faith and Begorrah, They Have Old Dog Homes!

5 Jun

 

by Roger White

 

Well, Faith and Begorrah, you can learn something new every day. Sometimes that—and little chocolate donuts—is the only thing that spurs me to drag my sagging carcass out of the sack most mornings.

LCDAnd speaking of learning something new (and in the true spirit of the stream-of-consciousness rambling rhetoric this forum prides itself on), do you know where the term “Faith and Begorrah” comes from? Or from which it comes, to avoid a prepositionally ended sentence?

From what I’ve been able to gather, “F&B” is a traditional Irish epithet that roughly translates into “By Gosh!” The Irish, of course, being a true Almighty-fearing people, didn’t want to come right out and say “By God!” when exclaiming some revelation or sense of amazement, so “F&B” was used to avoid taking the Supreme Dude’s name in vain and thereby summoning the furious wrath of the All-Knowing One. Kind of like how we say “Jeez!” to show astonishment (or when we smack our thumb with the hammer) to be able to quasi-curse without perturbing the Head Cheese. I believe it was W.C. Fields who used to exclaim, “Well, Godfrey wcfDaniels!” to approximate the G-D swear words. It’s all a bit silly, if you ask me. I mean, do we really think that (a) we’re putting one over on the Omniscient One; and (b) they’re actually keeping a Heavenly Tally?

Me at Pearly Gates: “So, St. P, do I get in the club?”

St. Peter: “Well. You did say ‘Jeez and Crackers’ six-hundred-seventy-two-thousand times. And don’t think we don’t know what that’s about.”

Me: “Aw, Jeez.”

St. Peter: “Ya see? That’s what I’m talking about.”

Me: “Sorry.”

St. Peter: “Oh, go on in. But we’re watching you.”

Aaaaanyway. Original point coming. I opined “F&B” earlier because I received a very kindly response to my recent column about aging pets and comedian Louis C.K.’s “countdown to sorrow” routine about pet ownership. I pondered why we don’t have any old pooch’s homes. And by golly (oop), we do have them!

Reader Elaine Courtney sent me this:

“Hi, I read your column today, and as I do most weeks, enjoyed it. (Most weeks? Hey.) Dogs are my favorite subject, and I mostly rescue seniors. The reason for that is I don’t want a dog to outlive me. My oldest is Baby, a 14-year-old Shih Tzu. He is now snoring away beside me. I have three other ShihTzus, two Corgis, and one recent find, a 14-year-old Basset-Corgi, whose momma went to assisted living in March. I’ve had to say goodbye to two seniors in the past three years …. It is very difficult to let them go, but they all had several years of a great spoiled life that they might never have had.  It’s usually a circus around here, but I love my dogs, and I am lucky that I work from home.

dog-retirement“Two things: One, there are several senior doggie retirement centers around the country, and it is such a great service. I would love to do that myself. I once thought of opening a pet cemetery, but that ran out of steam.

“The other thing I wanted to mention is your Bubbie, I hope you find a good residence for her. Hopefully, that decision is much further down the road. I do older adult services, helping people with errands and chores so that they can remain in their homes or even just have company, someone to play Scrabble with.

“If you need that kind of assistance for her, if it would make her or your life easier, let me know…. Oh, and cute picture of the labradoodle puppy in your article!!”

Well, that photo was provided by Editor Will. Kudos, Will-man. And thank you, Elaine. You’re a sweetie. Payola’s in the mail.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr. For further adventures, visitoldspouse.wordpress.com.

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Learning about Love & Loss — from your Labradoodle

27 May

by Roger White

 

Here’s a quote from comedian Louis C.K. I’ve been pondering lately: “It’s true, everything that makes you happy is going to end at some point, and nothing good ends well. It’s like, if you buy a puppy, you’re bringing it home to your family saying, ‘Hey, look, everyone, we’re all gonna cry soon. Look at what I brought home. I brought home us crying in a few years.’ widdul puppyHere we go. Countdown to sorrow with a puppy.”

I’m not sure I completely agree with the “nothing good ends well” bit, but I do understand what Louis is saying about pet ownership. The animals we bring into our lives, the furry little family members we choose to share our homes and our years with, wriggle and wag and romp their way into our hearts—and then they leave us, as they must. Ralph the rotund long-haired dachshund has been a loving and much-loved part of our family going on 13 years now, and though I pray he isn’t leaving us anytime soon, we do see the youthfulness waning from our once-rambunctious puppy, little by little. Especially lately, Ralph’s step isn’t as spry and bouncing as it once was, trips to the vet have become more frequent as aches and pains and digestive upsets pop up more often, and we’re finding more indiscretions around the house—a sure indicator that old dachour usually well-behaved Ralphie can’t hold it and wait for his bathroom breaks like he used to. Basically, it’s a lot like what’s happening to me. In fact, I would guess the old boy is aging a lot better than me, considering in dog years Ralph is going on about 91 now. I’m not yet 60, and my trips to the vet—er, doc—are a heck of a lot more frequent than Ralph’s, for sure.

Another life event our little family is going through presently involves an aging parent. My dear wife’s mom is at that point where we’re having to seriously consider the assisted living option. At 89, Bubbie is still as sharp as ever—smarter and quicker still than I’ll ever be—but physically her life is becoming demanding, challenging, and increasingly more difficult. I can only imagine how hard that step has to be, contemplating giving up one’s independence for the safety of a care facility. But I must say that some of the places we’ve visited in trying to make our determination are actually quite pleasant. Heck, I could live at some of these places right now—good meals, regular card games, pool and hot tub privileges, awesome meds, no daily rush-hour hell. And you can watch TV all you want!

And this got me thinking. Why don’t we have assisted living for pets? You know, an old pooch’s home. It would be complete with miniature pet wheelchairs, senior dog chow in the dining hall, group physical therapy sessions on such things as rudimentary tail-wagging, cat avoidance pup in chairtechniques for the older canine, most effective facial expressions for begging, stuff like that. Ralph would surely dig those Jacuzzi jets on his aging backbone. I may look into starting something along these lines. Call it, oh, the Lazy Days Sunset Retirement Kennel. Or Sam’s Silver Years Senior Shih Tzu Spot. Elroy’s Elderly English Setter Center? I don’t know, I’ll work on it.

Anyway, I believe Louis C.K.is being a bit harsh, now that I think about it. I wouldn’t call owning a pet a “countdown to sorrow” so much as I would term it a valuable lesson for us owners. Caring for and then letting go of a dearly loved pet, to me, is more a lesson in love and loss. Our pets show us the true meaning of selfless love—and, maybe as importantly, they teach us how to cope with loss. What greater lessons are there?

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr. For further adventures, visitoldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

Jet Set Pet Vet Your Best Bet to Get Your Pet All Set

3 Aug

by Roger White

 

You’re in for a treat in this installment, my discombobulated disciples. Today, This Old Spouse talks with Hector Proctor, famed household veterinarian and director of the Austin-based pet advocacy group Domestic Protectors, about some common pet problems and ailments and how to treat them. Regular followers of TOS know that my family cohabitates with rotund Ralph the long-haired weenie dog and moody Dr Hector ProctorMax the psychotic tabby. If your animals are anything like mine, you’ve often contemplated petricide, or at the very least replacing all your furnishings with old cable spools and concrete blocks. Hopefully, some good words of wisdom from the renowned pet vet will shed some light on the darker corners of animal ownership.

 

TOS: Hello, Doctor Proctor.

DocProc: Call me Hector.

 

TOS: Doctor Hector Proctor?

DocProc: Just Hector.

 

TOS: So Doctor Hector, as director of Domestic Protectors, you’ve lectured that—

DocProc: On second thought, Doctor Proctor is more proper.

 

TOS: I don’t want to dicker, Hector.

DocProc: Doctor Proctor.

 

TOS: Doctor Proctor then. So, what factor is better if your Boxer or Setter is a carpet wetter?

DocProc: This may be a shocker, but a Boxer or a Setter is not a Cocker or a Terrier. If you’re stricter on a Cocker, you’ll get caca on your Dockers.

 watulookinat

TOS: Ooh, heck of a specter, Doctor Hector. Tell us this, what’s a greater indicator that your cat’s a dachshund hater?

DocProc: Well, according to Doctor Edgar Lecter, assistant director at Domestic Protectors, a good detector of a dachshund hater is a spate of “hater craters” near your dachshund’s masticator.

 

TOS: Beg pardon?

DocProc: Scratches near his mouth.

 

TOS: Ah. OK, say your Great Dane’s feeling pain in his metacarpal vein. Can you ascertain the main blame for a Dane’s vein pain?

DocProc: Again deferring to Doctor Lecter, who’s a lecturer on corrective vectors at Domestic Protectors, a sore metacarpal connector sector is often a reflector of an infected schlector.

 

TOS: Schlector?

DocProc: Alright, I made that up.

 

TOS: Um. Here’s a question from a Mrs. Harry Nation of College Station. Dally MatianIt seems Mrs. Nation’s Dalmatian suffers salivation elevation during recreation. Any information?

DocProc: Well, salivation is the machination of canine perspiration, so salivation elevation during recreation is no aberration. No need for consternation, Mrs. Nation, unless exacerbation of your Dalmatian’s salivation leads to dehydration. Then perhaps an examination would be indication for medication, sedation, or further investigation.

 

TOS: A salivation revelation!

DocProc: Mere explanation.

 

TOS: Moving along, a Mr. Jubal Roodle of CampCanoodle writes that lately his Standard Poodle, Mr. Doodles, will eat only noodle kugel or Mr. Roodle’s stewed strudel.

DocProc: Poodles are a moody brood. Mr. Roodle, I conclude you’d be shrewd to mix the stewed strudel or noodle kugel in with Mr. Doodles’ Poodle food, then moody Mr. Doodles will chew the whole kit and caboodle. Mr. Roodle should then slowly exclude the stewed strudel and noodle kugel, moving Mr. Doodles to strictly Poodle foodle.

 

TOS: You said foodle.

DocProc: I did? This is brutal.

 

TOS: True dat. Well, before we scat, let’s wrap this claptrap with a cat chat. Doctor Martha McCurgeon, a surgeon from the rural Minerva region, claims her Persian, Bertha, has an odd version of perversion—an aversion to anything but sturgeon.

Persian AversionDocProc: Aha. This is actually a common Persian perversion. In the biz, we call it Persian Sturgeon Diversion. As a surgeon, Doctor McCurgeon should know her Persian’s sturgeon diversion is a minor perversion amenable to conversion to a Persian’s normal food version with minimal coercion. It’s my assertion that with minor exertion, Doctor McCurgeon can effect Bertha the Persian’s reversion to—

 

TOS: Oop, out of time, Doctor Proctor.

DocProc: Thank God. Next time, please connect with Doctor Edgar Lecter.

 

TOS: I’d like to thank Doctor Hector Proctor, director of Domestic Protectors, for—

DocProc: I’m outta here.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

I’m Just Rollin’ Along, Like My Dog

26 Mar

by Roger White

Ralph Cooper White is our family dog, and he is all there, let me tell ya. What I mean when I say he’s all there is that what we have is one royally rotund, prolifically plump Fat Ralphpooch. Now, dachshunds are called weenie dogs because of their unique resemblance to foot-long frankfurters, but as weenie dogs go, Ralph is more of a cheese danish. A round, brown, long-haired morning pastry of a hound. Actually, he’s more like a hairy little UFO. But we’ve been trying.

In our efforts to slim Ralph’s frame down to a reasonable facsimile of a normal dog’s, wifey and I take him on nightly walks in the neighborhood. Ralph takes his own sweet time during these forays, so much so that we practically drag him down the street. My dog read dogwife told me, however, that we shouldn’t rush him; she read somewhere that to a dog a daily walk is somewhat akin to reading the newspaper. It’s the dog’s time to relax, his opportunity to unwind. If that’s the case, then Ralph nightly reads the entire Sunday double edition of The Wall Street Journal, cover to cover.

Ralph does just about anything to stall the walking process. Sniff this, pee on that, observe the trees, bark at the squirrels, look in neighbors’ windows (wait, that’s me), etc., etc. But the one delaying tactic he uses that drives me nuts is his stubborn habit of rolling in junk. Not just any ordinary junk, mind you. Ralph loves to execute full body rolls in nasty, smelly dead, decaying things—mainly worms.

It makes you think twice about letting your pooch sleep in your bed when he carries the lingering odor of rotten death with him. Many times my wife will wake up in the middle of the night and smack me in the head. “Honey, honestly!” she’ll scold.

“It wasn’t me! Ralph just moved up next to your head!”

Wondering if perhaps Ralph possessed some oddball fascination with either mutant stink or death and putrefaction, I got online and found that this is actually quite a normal behavior. I shall quote from the ASPCA for Kids Site: “Rolling around in stuff that makes people want to barf—be it dead squirrels, poop or rotting garbage—is an instinct that comes from dogs’ wolf ancestors. Scientists don’t know for sure why dogs have that instinct, but they have a few ideas. The most popular theory is that dogs roll yuuuuckaround in the yucky stuff to cover up their natural smell, giving them camouflage and helping them be sneakier hunters. Another idea is that dogs are putting the funky smell on their bodies so they can alert other dogs to what they found. (When other dogs sniff your dog, they’ll get the exciting news that there’s a dead animal nearby.) Still a third idea is that dogs love to shimmy on gross things to claim them as their own—they don’t want any other dogs getting in on that prime piece of grossness.”

Hmm, interesting. So somewhere down the line, a fat cheese danish of a wild wolf rolled in dead stuff, too. One theory holds that Ralph slathers his body in an odor to throw others off the track, eh? I could use that myself. Say, if there was a scent I could ensconce my body in to avoid weekend chores. Men would pay good money for such an aroma, believe me. I imagine it might smell like sweat and wood shavings or something chore-related—maybe grass clippings and grease. I could see it in use:

“Honey, would you fix the . . .” Sniff, sniff. “Oh, never mind, you must be busy.”

Hot dog! Of course, another theory is that dogs roll in dead stuff to stake a claim. If a scent like this worked at the office, this might also be a money-maker. At my workplace in particular, any time someone makes fresh coffee, there’s a land rush on the coffee pot. It’s every man for himself. But—what if they made a scent so powerful, so reminiscent of it's juanJuan Valdez and mountain-grown Columbian beans that every worker big and small would step aside, knowing instinctively that you were the rightful heir to that first aromatic cup of joe? For that privilege, I would roll myself in any old nasty smell. 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.